cute puppy passenger

There’s nothing like a puppy face to make the world a better place, especially on days you really need one. For example…

Have you ever had someone unexpectedly completely ruin your day?

The sun is shining, you’re driving somewhere fun, life is good. Oh, here’s a merge up ahead… You turn on your signal to let someone know you’d appreciate a place to squeeze into the highway queue–

When some arrogant dick who looks like he eats kittens for breakfast stares at you through his window as he takes your signal as an invitation to not only cut you off, but slow down and try to drive you into the barrier ahead, staring at you through his passenger window the whole time.

The road troll. A person who goes around attempting legal hit and runs for his own amusement. Big city people know this vermin well, but we try not to think about them, because they suck.

I disappointed this one by not dying, but he won in the end: an hour later I was still upset about it. The idea of such a person, roaming the streets being inhuman to people, for fun. The sunshine had lost it’s shine, the springlike air seemed somehow grubby, my fellow humans felt less trustworthy, and I felt like I was having a Bad Day barely before the day started.

Thanks to adrenaline and broken expectations about common morality, this sort of feeling is truly hard to break out of, especially for the more sensitive of us. Other, tougher souls probably shrug it off like Portland rainwater, but I wonder if even they can feel it inside, nibbling away at their happiness.

Oddly, once you get into this funk, the day seems to follow your revised expectations, becoming a self-fulfilled prophecy. A Bad Day will be had, whether more bad stuff happens or not, while the regular stuff just takes on a bad feeling. We change our world by how we observe it, seeing the shadows instead of the light. There is the potential for good and bad in everything, and we can bring it out simply by focusing on it.

Thanks to our caveman evolution, we’re wired to see the bad things as far more important, simply to avoid getting eaten. Five yummy venison meals are great, but it only takes one hungry saber-tooth tiger to ruin that whole week of happiness. Why do you think it takes a dozen very expensive roses to say “I’m sorry”?

We don’t need this instinct as much now, but it’s wired in, so it often takes three to five good events to offset one bad one.

So, there I was coming out of a restaurant over an hour later, still in a funk. As I approached my car, an SUV was pulling into the spot next to mine, driven by an older lady. She noticed my approach and graciously held up pulling all the way in to give me access to my car. She even smiled and said hello. I smiled back and said Hi, but I was still too funked up to put much feeling into it (bad people are contagious).

But as I walked past, I looked over and saw a little black Terrier sitting in the passenger seat beside her, looking back at me with that little puppy face…

Suddenly the day kind of hiccuped: sunlight spattered everything with a twang, a breeze tousled my hair in playful slow motion, the smiling lady became a neighbor, the Earth’s bearings got a new squirt of grease. The universe very, very quietly said “boop”.

It was a while later I recalled being cut off by the dickhead, and when I did, I thought to myself “karma, do your stuff” and forgot all about him.

But I can still remember that puppy face many hours later. It was the expression of a creature who embodies innocence, whose only concern in the world is whether it was giving as much love as it could at this moment. Because a puppy can only live Right Now. That’s all that matters: Love, Right Now.

It doesn’t matter if you don’t get what I mean (I only do enough) or even agree with it. All I can say is, when you’re feeling doubt, anger, sadness, or a loss of faith … like many do these days: all you need is a puppy face.

Kittens and bunnies also work in a pinch.

If you’re curious, visit one at a shelter near you. Take one home if you see what I mean. Don’t let all that love go to waste.

You’ve probably heard enough about pandemic stuff to make your brains leak out of your ears. I’m with you. Whenever my well-meaning neighbor gets on the subject, I can feel imminent cerebral leakage occurring. Please don’t think that I’m not concerned–I have no intention of making little the pain this is causing too many people–but we have to push on. We need to help each other to stay positive, get through it, perhaps even thrive!

In that vein, I would like to offer a little comfort to those of us who are “sheltering in place” to prevent it from getting worse.

The Problem

For those of us stuck indoors without our jobs, afraid to go out and get breathed on, there are many ready distractions to keep us from thinking about the outside world or our own growing cabin fever. These include:

  • Watching too much CNN or other news channels, where horror is the name of the game, because they believe good news won’t keep you watching
  • Bingeing Netflix and cable streams to keep your brain from thinking anything at all for long spells at a time
  • Gaming and other virtual realities (my favorite is Second Life) where we can mentally escape this planet altogether

Distracting ourselves in these ways isn’t a bad way to keep the troubles of the world from overwhelming us (well, except for the first one), but from personal experience it’s not a very fulfilling life at the end of the day. Is it?

A Solution

Here’s a question you might not have asked yourself lately, with all this other stuff going on:

Do (or did) you have a dream?

Something you’ve always wanted to accomplish with your life, but never seemed to have the time, because you were too busy trying to make ends meet. While you’re thinking fondly on that, here’s another question:

Wouldn’t this be a great time to pursue that dream?

Thanks to the Internet and all kinds of tools, schools, and pools of people online looking for collaborators to do the same thing, perhaps this is the time to:

  • Retool, to make yourself better, faster, stronger
  • Refocus on what you really want to do with your life
  • Explore the many ways others have succeeded where you want to go
  • Brainstorm the steps you might take to progress toward your dream

If you’re stuck at home without work, like me, isn’t this exactly what some of us were wishing for–a break from all that mandatory mundane life, to make something of our own? Well, here you are…

This is your time.